5 Online Holiday Shopping Safety Tips for Consumers

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By Janice Somosot | December 3, 2013 1:41 PM EST

With the start of the Holidays comes the onslaught of holiday shopping for the season of gift-giving is just around the corner, not to mention the various sales and deals offered by almost every store this time of the year. However, there are a lot of scammers out there during holiday shopping too. They are taking advantage of shoppers who are rushing to buy items during a sale like, Black Friday or Cyber Monday. If you want to avoid getting scammed, check out the online holiday shopping safety tips for consumers below.

Chester Wisniewski, an expert with Sophos, writes on the global cybersecurity firm's blog.

"Lots of people are looking to make money off of the Christmas giftgiving bonanza and many of them are scammers," wrote Wisniewski on the Sophos blog as stated in a report from the Christian Science Monitor.

"If you receive an email or online solicitation you are interested in, don't click any links, even though that may seem counterintuitive," added Sophos expert Wisniewski in a report from the Christian Science Monitor.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) as well as several cybersecurity experts offer these online holiday shopping safety tips for consumers to help them avoid scams.

  1. Research on online merchants. Make sure to shop only with trusted and reputable online merchants. Always go to these sites by typing their URLs into the browser address bar. Double check with the Federal Trade Commission or the Better Business Bureau, especially if you are not sure about a particular company.
  2. Disable Bluetooth. If not being used, make sure to shut off Bluetooth and other near-field communication systems on your mobile devices to avoid or at least limit the possibility of capturing credit-card numbers by another nearby device.
  3. Use a credit (not debit) card or an online payment system. Use PayPal and other online payment services because these Web sites keep personal card information stored on a secure server. That way, shoppers don't have to reveal their credit card details every time they shop online. But, if you prefer to pay directly to the merchant, it is better to use a credit card than a debit card to help reduce liability just in case your personal information is used inappropriately.
  4. Be careful when using mobile applications.  Make sure that you only use well-evaluated apps that are used by a lot of people because some shopping apps could download malware into your gadgets and steal important personal information (credit card information) for cybercriminals to use.
  5. Secure your computer and mobile devices. The application software and operating systems of your computer and mobile devices must be up to date. This goes for anti-spyware and antivirus software as well. These must be installed, running smoothly and receiving automatic updates regularly. Also, use strong and unique passwords using alphanumeric combinations that are not used for any other accounts.

Buyer Beware: Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Nose This Holiday Shopping Season (Click HERE)

Online Shopping Tips to Beat Scammers, Spammers (Click HERE)

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